I am pretty sure that at this point everyone is ready for spring time, sunshine and warm weather. Yet another snow day today which means the kids are home, parents are cooped up inside, food stores are emptied out and we are all trying to come up with new ways to stay entertained. I am certainly no different and after catching the stomach bug again this week (that is twice this month!) I am itching to get out but alas the weather has different plans for me. We have a lot going on in the next month or two and I am getting stressed about all that needs to be done (more to come on that in a future post). When I get in the mode of worry, anxiety and stress over everything that I have to do, I often become paralyzed and unable to start any one project. But time is not always on my side and if one thing is for sure, my husband is getting on a plane to Jamaica next Tuesday whether or not I am with him so I best start packing, start planning and start getting excited because whatever may be happening here in NJ I am most definitely only 5 days away from some serious sunshine.
My husband and I decided to book a trip to celebrate his “35th birthday” (yes friends, I married a younger man). We have had plenty of nights away, weddings, events, short weekend jaunts in the past 2 years but no real get out of dodge just the two of us in a while. We took an amazing trip to the British Virgin Islands when Charlie was just 6 months old and while leaving our new baby was painfully hard at the time, it was a much needed break for the two of us and an amazing experience. So here we are again, 3 years later and heading to an amazing, secluded resort for 5 full days of sun, fun and relaxation. I should be bouncing with joy and excitement but I am a bit stressed over how things will go while we are away and of course am carrying that mom guilt over ditching my boys and being selfish enough to go away and have fun while the grandparents take care of our babies for us. In addition, I have avoided actually packing or thinking about packing because I am not quite back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and the idea of skipping around the beach in my bikinis is not quite so appealing at the moment. All of that aside, the biggest stressor is concern over Charlie. How he will react to us being away, the change in his everyday routine without mom and dad around, the potential meltdowns that may occur and the impact that will have on my mom who is staying at our house while we are away. The smallest things can set him off and there will come a time where he wants to watch a specific episode of Mickey but she may not be able to understand what he is saying and it will result in hitting, aggressive behavior, toys being thrown and someone getting hurt. I pray this doesn’t happen but I am realistic in knowing it probably may happen at least once. My parents and in-laws are wonderful with both of the boys and they are parents themselves (obviously) who have raised kids and survived and will probably have a wonderful (although tiring) time with their grandchildren. They seem excited to spend time with them and I am sure the boys will have a great time. I loved when my grandparents stayed with us when I was younger and my parents went away – they spoiled us, gave us ice-cream and were much more fun and lenient than my parents were. And let’s be honest here, we all know that our kids are better behaved when they are with the grandparents anyway.
A week ago at my therapy session (yes I admit to seeing a therapist and am not embarrassed about needing someone who is completely neutral and uninvolved in my life to talk to) I expressed my angst over this upcoming trip. She had me do an exercise where I wrote down all of the reasons why this was not a good time to go away. Then she had me write down all of the FACTS about why this was in fact a good time to go away. The point of this process was to separate what I felt emotionally to be true versus what the true facts actually are. In the beginning of the exercise I had to write a statement which was “This is not a good time to go on vacation because Charlie doesn’t like changes in his routine, he may be difficult for my parents and it will be stressful and too much for everyone to handle.” After writing down my concerns and the coinciding FACTS about what was really true, my statement changed to read “Charlie may have trouble with the change in his routine but he adores his grandparents, is comfortable with them, has fun with them and they are excited to spend time with the boys and to do this for my husband and me.” I believed it, I felt it to be true and I relaxed with the knowledge that everyone would be just fine for a week. I had to pull that list out again today to remind myself that our parents would not have agreed to this if they did not want to, that they really love their grandchildren and that they know how important it is for my husband and I to take some time for ourselves.
Which brings me to the real reason why this vacation is so important; we need couple time, we need to reconnect and just be “us” if only for a few days. The everyday craziness of life with two young children, work demands, general day to day life stress can be exhausting for everyone and it is very easy to lose ourselves to the needs and demands of our kids, our jobs, our lives. I would not say that we put our relationship last (we have date nights often, we spend a good amount of time together and we have fun) but we are often tired, or burnt out, or spending time together entails planning the logistics of our week or of the kids needs rather than talking about music, movies, books, ideas, plans for the future or just how damn good this fruity cocktail is. Spending time together completely removed from the responsibilities of our day to day worlds means we can focus on each other, on who we are as people not as mom and dad. It gives us the opportunity to sleep in, stay up late, go out dancing (okay maybe I will be dancing), pretend we are younger and more carefree than we actually are and generally to just be us, no strings attached. Before I got married, my mom (who is very wise and gives amazing advice) told me to make sure to always make time to go away with my husband to spend time as a couple. This was easy in those first few pre-kid years but as time goes on it becomes more difficult to make this happen. There is always a reason not to do it but I can speak from experience that when we make the effort (even if its a quick overnight or weekend away) the benefits are significant.
The last few weeks have been rough on everyone between sickness, snow days, evaluating new therapy treatments, figuring out how to schedule sessions for Charlie among other things and because I tend to go at full speed I also tend to burn out. As the above quote states so well, if we don’t stop to recharge, then we lose the momentum to finish the race.
So I will spend the next few days packing and planning and trying not to get too upset that my bikini doesn’t look as good as I want it to and instead focus on the fact that I am lucky enough to have a husband I actually want to go away with, that we have the means to make this trip happen, that after 8.5 years of marriage and 15 years together, we still want to enjoy alone time and more than anything else the fact that we have parents who are selfless enough and generous enough to take over our parenting duties while we play hooky for a week.
In case we don’t say it enough times before, during and after our trip, thank you thank you thank you to our parents for letting this happen for us, we really need it. I need a break in order to recharge myself and gear up for the new round of therapies and school changes that are about to rock my work and my husband needs a break from his long work hours and hands-on dad hours on nights and weekends. I know that in the end, we will return feeling refreshed and reconnected and I personally will have a new focus and energy to dive head first back in to my role as mom and special needs advocate – because losing momentum to finish the race is just not an option I am willing to accept.